In Which We Open Our Medicine Cabinet
Friday, February 14, 2014 at 10:39AM
Alex in NEW YORK, durga chew-bose




A leg was broken. Its double-sided woodscrew had loosened and its metal thread was irreversibly stripped. Now, my parents’ mid-century olive green chaise lounge looked comically dejected and lifeless, no longer possessing its coy, come hither posture. Few things look more miserable than a purposeless chair, especially one whose purpose is for lazing. So, my father went to the local hardware store to replace the double-sided screw and then after, to a bicycle shop next door where he had the metal flange rethreaded with a tap. But the wood inside the leg was also ruined. The man at the hardware store told my father to fill the hole with matchsticks and carpenter glue and instructed him to, Leave it overnight. The next day, the wood leg—walnut brown and tapered—screwed in effortlessly and the chair was once again, herself.


The overnight Greyhound from New York to Montreal takes roughly eight hours, give or take twenty minutes. It leaves at 11 p.m. from Port Authority and arrives at the Berri bus station in the morning. Depending on the season, you board when it’s dark and disembark when it’s dark, or board when it’s dark and disembark when it’s light out. No matter the season, you arrive a little wobbly; gum-breath and flat hair. You yawn as you stumble down the stairs because Greyhound stairs, it seems, are built steeply and induce deep, near-stagy yawns.


When I search for the word “overnight” in my inbox, these are just some of the results that span nearly five years of emails.

1. Countless promotions: Overnight holiday delivery ends today! FREE Shipping Overnight! Overnight and Saturday delivery, etc

2. A note from my father about our puppy, Willis, who was taken to the emergency room because he was throwing up and because his heart was racing: They are doing x-rays now and they may keep him overnight. 

3. Finally, some renovations and fresh coats of paint at my old apartment in Boerum Hill. Thrilled, my roommate wrote: so Frazier is painting the kitchen and we have to let it dry overnight. i will put all the shit away tomorrow in the day. isn't this exciting. There is no reply thread to that e-mail because I likely texted back, Fuck yeah.

4. Dispatches from various family members updating me about my aunt’s cancer treatment:

They may request Jen stays overnight for observation following the first treatment.

Jen will most likely spend overnight at the hospital, however, she is not in a room.  Dolores will be keeping me posted.

she's scheduled for chemo on monday (she'll stay overnight in hospital) and tuesday so they can check her white blood cell count

5. A gchat with my friend about a new boy in her life. On April 2nd, 2013 at 6:07pm, she wrote:

he’s just completely changed the way he talks to me in the last two weeks and i don’t know what the hell is going on

And then three minutes later at 6:10pm, she writes: he went from hot to cold literally overnight!

6. A link (and the full text) of a New York Times profile of Chirlane McCray pasted into the e-mail:

He flirted with her mercilessly, she said, calling nonstop and trying to steal an unwelcome kiss. “I actually told him, ‘Slow this down,’ ” Ms. McCray said. Her resistance became less diplomatic: “Back off.”

But a romance blossomed: Mr. de Blasio, five years her junior, won over her family with an overnight visit that earned him a new moniker: “Brother Bill.”

7. An e-mail from my roommate while I was home in Montreal this past Christmas. A picture was attached depicting the street outside my bedroom window: We got about 6 inches in Brooklyn overnight and it is 10 degrees out. The subject of the e-mail was “Snow day” and I remember thinking how six inches was nothing compared to winter in Montreal. Appraising the difference made me ache for my friends yet promptly miss my parents who were sitting in the next room.  


Bad timing. I developed a rash on my left cheek — a patch of red that felt like sandpaper. I was meeting an old friend the next day and considered cancelling with a text: Hi! Sorry, feeling sick – lame, I know…blergh. Raincheck?

No response.

The worst part of cancelling a plan is waiting for the acknowledgement of the cancelled plan.

So, I opened my medicine cabinet and reached for a tube of a cream – who knows what, it was thick. I padded it on my cheek with certainty despite itchiness and uncertainty. I went to bed moody, embittered.

The next morning I woke up and checked my phone—no texts—and clomped my morning clomp down my hall and to my bathroom. Focus in the morning is a far off thing and I nearly forgot about my rash. But there it wasn’t. Barely red; barely there. Overnight, just like that, it was gone. Someone should bottle and sell the sense of relief spawned from a rash gone. Suddenly, I felt invincible. Overnight, I was made invincible.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about The Mindy Project.

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